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"The life of a man is like a ball in the river-- no matter what our will wants or desires, we are swept along by an invisible current that finally delivers us to the limitless expanse of the black sea." So reflects the elderly Buddhist priest Seido Oda as he considers the life that brought him from an idyllic mountainside village in Japan to the bustling streets of Brooklyn, New York-- a touching and humorous journey richly depicted in Buddhaland Brooklyn. Oda's boyhood is spent fishing in clear mountain streams, picking plums, and helping his parents run the family's village inn on the slopes of Mount Nagata. But at age eleven, his parents hand him over to the monks at the nearby Buddhist monastery. Separated from his family and deeply lonely, the acolyte adjusts to monastic life by devoting himself to painting, poetry, and prayer--and avoiding human contact. This safe and quiet existence is unexpectedly upended, however, when he reaches middle age and is ordered by his superior to open a temple in Brooklyn. New York is a shock to the introverted Oda. A shy, socially inept Japanese priest who hides his true feelings behind a severe manner, Reverend Oda must spiritually lead the ragtag army of eccentric New Yorkers who make up the local Buddhist community. This motley crew and their misguided practices provide for a host of hilarious cultural misunderstandings and mishaps. But when tragedy strikes, Oda's rigid worldview is shattered and his eyes are finally opened to the long-buried sadness and personal shortcomings in his own life. It is only when he comes to appreciate the Americans, flaws and all, that Oda finds in Brooklyn the home he has always sought. A lively, vivid novel, Buddhaland Brooklyn stirs from the very first page. This is an entertaining and edifying meditation on the meaning and rewards of true acceptance.
"That skinny Indian teenager has that mysterious something that comes along once a generation. He is one of those rare chefs who is simply born. He is an artist." And so begins the rise of Hassan Haji, the unlikely gourmand who recounts his life's journey in Richard Morais's charming novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey. Lively and brimming with the colors, flavors, and scents of the kitchen, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a succulent treat about family, nationality, and the mysteries of good taste. Born above his grandfather's modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumière, a small village in the French Alps. The boisterous Haji family takes Lumière by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restaurant opposite an esteemed French relais--that of the famous chef Madame Mallory--and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restaurant, and a slew of new adventures. The Hundred-Foot Journey is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. A testament to the inevitability of destiny, this is a fable for the ages--charming, endearing, and compulsively readable.
Wanderlust: A Book Club Sampler from Simon & Schuster is your boarding pass to the beautiful, the mysterious, and the unknown. This book club sampler was created to pay homage to a book's unique ability to transport your imagination around the world, taking you on journeys across distance and time. Whether you're in the mood for a historical love story set on a sheep station in rural Australia or an illuminating memoir of life in the war-torn Middle East, these are books you and your reading group won't want to miss: Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo, Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum, The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais, The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park, An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy. Each excerpt in Wanderlust is accompanied by a collection of bonus materials intended to enrich your reading experience, including discussion questions, suggestions for enhancing your book club meeting, and author interviews. In the spirit of looking to the horizon, we also asked each author featured in this sampler one question: "What is your favorite travel memory?" Their answers are fittingly diverse--from Christina Meldrum's summers spent at a family cottage in Lake Margrethe, Michigan, to Alice Hoffman's inspirational first trip to Masada, the setting of her epic new novel The Dovekeepers. Anuradha Roy, the author of An Atlas of Impossible Longing, describes the lure of armchair travel best: "All readers...carry within themselves sediments of the places they have traveled to in books, the people they've met on the way. Therefore the strange dÉjÀ vu is when you land in a foreign country and wonder if you've been there before." So, sit back, relax, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime. Bon Voyage!
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